6 Bodyweight Exercises for Your Chest

As gym memberships continue to increase in cost, many people are opting to move their workout out of the gym. One of these popular alternatives is known as body weight exercises, where the weight of the body itself is used as resistance. Requiring no extra equipment, these exercises can be done virtually anywhere and anytime. As chest is one of the most popular muscles to work, there have been many bodyweight exercises developed with this muscle in mind. While there are countless options to choose from, here are a few of the standard bodyweight exercises for chest to help get you started.


While this is easily the most basic exercise you can do when it comes to trying to build up your chest, it’s plenty effective. The key here is to treat the pushups as if you were using weight. Instead of adding a new plate every once in a while, you want to gradually increase the reps you are doing. While this is the most simple of workouts, that everyone should know how to do once they get through middle school, it’s simple and tried and true because it really does help build up your chest. The bonus is that this is one that can also build up your arms. For a great degree of difficulty, spread your arms farhter apart so that you have less leverage to lift yourself off the ground.

Decline Pushup

When you have mastered the regular old pushup, you can dial your chest workout up a notch by doing something like a decline pushup. This is just a regular pushup for the most part, but you have your legs resting on something that is quite a bit higher than your upper body. This means that when you are in a resting position, you will have your body sloping down towards your head. When you do the pushup, you are basically bringing your body into line with itself.

Crossover Box Pushup

This has an added degree of difficulty than your basic pushup because it actually adds a bit of cardio into the routine. Basically, you get something that is a little bit off the ground. This can literally be a small box if it’s sturdy enough to hold your weight. You then put one arm on the box and the other arm on the ground. You then push off the elevated box but not straight up, you are going to want to basically shift your body so that your other arm ends up on the box. You then repeat the motion again, constantly shifting your weight and doing a one-arm pushup off the box. Keep going as far and as long as you can before your arms give out. You are going to feel like this is easy at first and then suddenly you will find that you are definitely running out of steam. Just like any other pushup, part of the issue is going to be increasing how many reps you are able to pull off during a full workout.

Lean forward dips

This is the only excercise on the list that is going to need for you to find at least a piece of equipment, though if you can use a tall chair or something like that, you might be able to make do. Basically you are doing to want to be able to hang down far enough that you can lower yourself without touching the ground. You will lean your torso forward and lower yourself, then straighten out your arms, lifting yourself well off the ground. While this is one that can really work your arms, it works your abs because you are leaning forward and holding your midsection still. You will find that it doesn’t take long before you have worn yourself out doing this program, mostly because you are using bars to raise yourself and then slowly lowering yourself. This is as close to a full body workout as you are going to get when you are talking about bodyweight exercises for chest.

Ring Fly

This is another excercise that will need at least a little bit of help for bodyweight exercises for chest that uses equipment. You will need to have straps you can attach to a wall or to a machine if you end up going to the gym every once in a while. At the end of the straps will be the rings. You basically walk the straps as far as you possibly can and then lean forward. Once you have done this, you then try and do a fly exercise as you are leaning into the strap and the rings. By leaning forward, you are fighting against your very own body weight when it comes to trying to bring the two rings together. This is basically the same kind of premise as if there were weights you were attempting to lift if you were just doing a regular fly or chest press.

Frog Pushup

For this one, you are going to start in a pushup form, but then you will basically hop your legs closer to your arms. The key to this is keeping your back straight while you bring your legs closer. Then you will start to bring your chest closer to the ground in a kind of pushup motion, then push back up, carrying out the basic pushup. The pressure of keeping your body in the kind of frog-like posture will put added pressure on your chest when you are doing the pushups. This is quite a bit more difficult than a regular pushup and it will make your chest that much more cut.

Standard Push-up

It should come as no surprise that the standard push-up makes number one on this list. It’s a staple chest exercise that is simple, yet effective. While laying facedown on the ground, place your hands just outside of shoulder width apart. Then, push your body upward, away from the ground, while keeping your torso and legs straight. Slowly allow yourself to go back down without touching the ground and repeat. This exercise is great as it can be performed anywhere. In fact, it makes up the standard from which most other chest exercises are derived.

Chest Dips

Although this one requires a bit of equipment, it still utilizes body weight as the primary resistance. The key is to find two flat, sturdy surfaces that are parallel and wider than shoulder width. The backs of two chairs can be used or a set of parallel bars found in many parks. Put a hand on each chair or bar and slowly lift your legs off the ground. Your body should naturally angle itself forward. Slowly bend your arms and allow your body to come down towards the ground before pushing back up again. This is a great exercise for stretching out the chest muscle. As a bonus, these dips also accentuate the triceps.

Bodyweight Flyes

This body weight exercise requires a bit of creativity but is a lot of fun. Flyes in the gym are often accomplished with dumbbells and a bench. Without only our bodyweight however, improvisation is important. The key is to find a smooth surface upon which your hands can move easily. Two paper plates can be used on carpet or other common surfaces. Place each of the plates under your hands in a normal push-up position. Slowly push your arms outward and resist the pull towards the ground. Once you feel a pull in your outer chest, pull your arms back together to lift the body and repeat. This exercise helps to focus on the outer portions of the chest and adds a nice stretching motion as well. Many people who perform bodyweight exercises are not aware of this one, so spread the word.

Incline Push-Ups

This alternative to the standard push-up is the perfect option for those looking to improve their push-up strength. Instead of performing the push-up on the ground, incline push-ups are completed while leaning against something. With your feet on the ground and hands against a bench or table, perform the standard push-up motion. The angle makes this body weight exercise easier than a standard push-up, yet still effective for targeting the chest. The steeper the incline, the easier the movement is because of the extra support from your feet. For this reason, the angle can simply be reduced gradually as strength is built. This will help to increase your standard push-up and help build a solid chest.

Decline Push-Up

This bodyweight exercise takes the incline push-up and flips it upside down. In other words, instead of making the exercise easier, the decline push-up is harder than the standard. The decline push-up should only be attempted once the you have mastered the standard push-up. In order to perform this exercise, a raised platform of some kind is needed. This can be a bench, chair or exercise ball. You should get into regular push-up position with your feet elevated. With your arms a bit more than should width apart, perform the standard push-up motion. In contrast to the incline and standard versions, the decline push-up puts more emphasis on the upper chest and shoulders. This can help to add some strength and muscle to these areas. The elevation of the legs can be increased in order to make the exercise more challenging.

Clapping Push-up

Although the decline push-up is challenging due to the elevation of the feet, the clapping push-up is the toughest bodyweight exercise on the list. This exercise is performed the same as a standard push-up, but requires much more strength and explosion. After reaching the bottom portion of the standard push-up with the chest near the floor, you should explode up in and effort to create distance between your hands and the ground. The challenge is to clap your hands fast enough before placing them back on the ground. The clapping push-up will help to create an explosive strength within the chest muscles. The overall motion also helps with coordination.

People are often under the misconception that bodyweight exercises aren’t versatile. Unfortunately, many people consider the standard push-up as the only bodyweight chest exercise. In reality, there are numerous variations that are challenging and fun. This list will help get you started with some of the most common bodyweight chest exercises. It is important to always consider your abilities and to perform the bodyweight exercises for chest with proper caution.